After years of conservative media figures agitating for congressional Republicans to impeach President Obama, today House Speaker John Boehner announced plans to sue the president for not "faithfully executing the laws of this country."
Discussing the suit -- which would be filed on behalf of the House of Representatives -- Boehner claimed that it was "not about impeachment." But in a piece for The New Republic, Brian Beutler argues that conservatives' push to stir up outrage over Obama has led Republicans to seek a "relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment":
Having created a clamor within the GOP conference, and the conservative base, over Obama's use of executive power, Republicans now must satisfy the consequent appetite to do something about it. Suing Obama is meant to do that. The goal is to be head-turning enough to simultaneously address coalition management obligations--calm restive conservatives, keep the base energized--and serve as a relief valve for the building pressure to draw up articles of impeachment.
The risk is that it'll whet rather than diminish the right's appetite for impeachment. But Boehner doesn't have much choice. You can't gin up this much outrage over Obama's actions, and then do nothing to stop him, when the Constitution provides you so many tools to do just that.
Much of the building pressure for impeachment has come not only from congressional Republicans, but from conservative media figures, whose calls for impeachment have been a steady drumbeat since Obama took office.
Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh was telling his radio listeners that Obama "needs to be impeached" for "using the IRS to damage his political opponents." (Limbaugh had previously concluded that even if Obama deserved to be impeached, the "racial component" would save him.)
Earlier this month, National Review contributor and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy tried to kickstart the impeachment movement by publishing Faithless Execution: Building The Political Case For Obama's Impeachment. Slate's David Weigel placed McCarthy's book in the context of a recent push by conservatives to impeach the president "without looking crazy."
In Faithless Execution, McCarthy argues that while the legal case for impeaching Obama was a no-brainer -- the second half of the book is comprised of McCarthy's own draft Articles of Impeachment -- Republicans would need to build a political case with the public in order to actually go through with it.
The week McCarthy's book was released, he started kicking up dust about how President Obama's exchange of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl amounted to a "high crime and misdemeanor."
Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano ran with McCarthy's impeachment idea on Fox & Friends, calling it a "very, very valid argument that people are going to start talking about." Fellow Fox News contributor Allen West also used the Bergdahl release to lay out "the case for impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama" and has fundraised off of impeachment for his political action committee.
Starting in early 2009, conservative media figures have called for the president's impeachment over any number of issues, including (but not limited to): the Boston Marathon bombings, the administration's support of failed solar company Solyndra, immigration reform, the failed Fast and Furious gunrunning operation, Benghazi, reportedly offering former Democratic Representative Joe Sestak a spot on a presidential panel to convince him to stay out of a primary, the implementation of the sequester spending cuts, health care reform, and his birth certificate.